Eredivisie: This transfer window’s 10 best pieces of business
By Elko Born
All in- and outgoing transfer deals taken into account, this transfer window the Eredivisie made a collective net profit of €111 million according to Voetbal International. Not bad at all, you might think, especially compared to the Premier League (a loss of €494m) and Ligue 1 (a loss of €164m). Those Eredivisie clubs must have done some good business this summer. But which pieces of business (in- and outgoing transfers), exactly, were the best? Here’s a top 10 for you.
10. Samuel Armenteros (Anderlecht to Feyenoord, loan deal)
Eredivisionistas will remember Armenteros’ time at Heracles. From 2009 until 2012, Armenteros was one of the best attackers not playing for a top five side. In the first half of the 2012/2013 season, he scored 13 goals in 21 matches. Despite having been signed by Anderlecht earlier than expected and an important goal against Club Brugge, he was soon banished to the reserves. That things didn’t work out in Brussels doesn’t mean he won’t be of any use to Feyenoord. The Rotterdam side are desperate for some fresh attacking force, especially because they won’t want to overly rely on Graziano Pellè’s goals for yet another season but Armenteros will have to do better against the top sides. Verdict: Sensible loan deal.
9. Romeo Castelen (Volga Nizhniv Novgorod to RKC Waalwijk, free transfer)
Less than eight years ago, the now 30-year-old Romeo Castelen was a Dutch international. However, after a series of injuries and a bad spell in Germany with HSV, he completely disapeared from the football world’s radar. When Erwin Koeman brought him back to the Netherlands this summer, a few eyebrows were raised. ‘Nizhniv Novgorod? How do you pronounce that? Is that a club on planet earth?’ people asked, right until they saw Castelen play well in his debut against Twente and score in his second game, which came against Vitesse. Verdict: Nifty little free transfer.
8. Jozy Altidore (AZ to Sunderland, €10 million)
When Altidore arrived in Alkmaar in 2011, AZ fans had high hopes. Not many people believed he would ever become Premier League material though. Spells at Bursaspor and Villarreal were not very succesful and critics suggested even AZ might be a bridge too far for the strong American. Altidore went on to score an impressive 38 goals in 67 matches and had a liking for Ajax. AZ were able to sell him to Sunderland for a whopping €10m. That’s a good deal, even if you’re selling your best striker. Verdict: A nice fistful of dollars.
7. Erik Pieters (PSV to Stoke City, €3.6m)
Last season, Erik Pieters barely played a game. Part of this was due to bad luck: in 2011 he fractured his metatarsal forcing him to spend nine months injured. Then Pieters amazed friend and foe by not only getting sent off in his comeback match but also punching a glass door on while storming off and cursing on live television, cutting his arm open and injuring himself again in the process. PSV were more than worried, because with only one year left on his contract, the time to sell was now. Luckily for PSV, Stoke put in a nice little bid. Verdict: Thank you and goodbye.
6. Youness Mokhtar (PEC Zwolle to FC Twente, undisclosed fee)
We’re five matches into the 2013/2014 Eredivisie season and it’s not Ajax who sit top, nor PSV or Feyenoord or even FC Twente but PEC Zwolle. And even though PEC Zwolle has no chance of becoming champions, they deserve to be where they are at this point in time – it’s not an aberration. The Zwollenaren have been playing some good football, partly thanks to young Youness Mokhtar, a 22 year old attacker/attacking midfielder who was once kicked out of the PSV youth academy. Had things gone a little differently for Mokhtar, he would have been playing alongside Locadia and Depay in PSV’s fresh, young side. FC Twente realised this and snapped him up. Verdict: I’ll have one of those as well, please.
5. Lerin Duarte (Heracles to Ajax, €3.5m)
It’s hard to guage exactly how good this transfer is for Ajax. On one hand, he’s a very talented youngster, and even at the tender age of 22 arguably Heracles’ best player. On the other hand, Ajax bought him to replace Christian Eriksen, who moved to Tottenham for a fee of €13.5m. As they expected a player of a higher calibre (say: Maher or Van Ginkel), many Ajax fans aren’t pleased. Still, if it’s Ajax policy to buy talented players when they’re still young and relatively cheap, Duarte is a great buy. Verdict: Hey, here’s some money. Let’s buy another youngster!
4. Jeffrey Gouweleeuw (Heerenveen to AZ, €1.5m)
After making his debut the year before, Jeffrey Gouweleeuw impressed during the 2011/2012 season, leading critics to scream, never mind jump for joy over the fact that the Netherlands had finally produced another decent defender. There was even talk of a transfer to Ajax or Feyenoord. In the end, nothing happened. Then, Gouweleeuw’s form dipped during the 2012/2013 season. Nothing out of the ordinary, AZ must have thought, we’re talking about a 21 year old. So they snapped the ball playing defender up for only 1.5 million, somewhat belatedly adding the genuine quality in the backline they lost when Moisander joined Ajax. Verdict: Bargain of the century
3. Jeffrey Bruma (Chelsea to PSV, €2.95m)
With players like Strootman, Van Bommel, Lens and Mertens, as well as a coach like Dick Advocaat, last year PSV just oozed quality. Perhaps not surprisingly, they scored 103 goals – more than any other side. The other side of the coin was that they also conceded a lot: 43, more than any other top six side. The overwhelming consensus was that PSV needed better defenders. PSV’s technical director Marcel Brands agreed and brought in Karim Rekik on loan from Manchester City and Jeffrey Bruma from Chelsea on a permanent deal. Bruma, who at 21 has already played in the Premier League (Chelsea), Championship (Leicester City) and the Bundesliga (HSV), immediately showed his worth in PSV’s first few matches this year, even earning himself a spot in the Oranje squad. Verdict: Defensive scoop of the year.
2. Adam Maher (AZ to PSV, €8m)
Adam Maher’s potential to become a superstar has been obvious for a few years now. He’s in everyone’s top 50 European wonderkid list, and for good reason. Last year, he anounced he felt ready for a new step in his career, and that he’d like to leave AZ for either Ajax or PSV. Ajax, who nowadays are averse to spending more than €5m on a player, didn’t seem to care much, but PSV (who attempted to buy him in the previous transfer window) immediately put in a bid and Ajax were never really in the race. Maher later told Nusport. ‘PSV, on the other hand, wanted me for a long time. PSV fought for me.’ So they did; and successfully. They now have the most talented Dutch player in the Eredivisie amongst their ranks. Verdict: Invest in the best.
1. Kevin Strootman (PSV to AS Roma, €20m)
PSV occupy all three steps on the podium. Getting quality in the shape of Bruma and Maher for €11m is great business but that’s a considerable outlay for an Eredivisie club and it’s not the first time PSV have gone big in the market in recent years. Too big, in all but the most exceptional of circumstances. PSV had a jewel in the crown, however, in their best player who was so good, he was bound to leave anyway and de Eindhovenaren pocked an eye-watering €20m for the ex-Sparta midfielder. Determined to end Ajax’s stranglehold on the Eredivisie title, Marcel Brands had to set the bar high. The signs so far are that he’s cleared it. Verdict: Sell and buy, harvest and sow.